Secrets of the Kung Fu Temple on Nat Geo Tonight

Shaolin Temple
photograph courtesy of National Geographic Channel
Shaolin Temple

The Shaolin Temple gave birth to one of the greatest martial art forms: kung fu. For over a thousand years Shaolin has trained the top students but now grapples with influences of the modern world.

"Secrets of the Kung Fu Temple", which airs tonight on the National Geographic Channel at 10pm eastern, is one of the more fascinating documentaries I've been able to preview.  I had no idea Shaolin was becoming so modernized and to watch the mix of the old and new is... well it's pretty freakin' cool.

The current head Abbot, Shi Yong Xin, has turned Shaolin temple into a thriving business as well as a place run on ancient traditions. For example, the temple is open for tourism daily and for about 15 American dollars you can stroll the grounds and watch the potential monks train.  As you can imagine, he faces some harsh criticism, but stands firm in his belief that in order for the temple to thrive, they have to stay with the times.

I have to say that besides the incredible martial arts, my favorite part is watching the Abbot flip his cell phone in and out of the sleeve of his robes.

Potential Shoalin monks are hand picked from kung fu schools across China and brought to the temple to train 365 days a year with the possibility of making what they call the "A Team".   These teams then travel the globe performing their traditional techniques to modern audiences.

However, in tonight's documentary you get a sneak peek into a new, non-traditional routine that will be performing in London. For the first time ever a western choreographer has come to the temple and put together a show that mixes kung fu with modern dance and after seeing small parts of this performance, I would pay any price to get a chance to see it live.

Definitely don't miss this one.  It's a fascinating story in a beautiful setting.  A definite must see.

"Secrets of the Kung Fu Temple" airs tonight at 10pm eastern on The National Geographic channel.

1 Comment

I work for a theater located in Sevierville, TN. We are honored to have the performance Soul of Shaolin at the Eastern Shanghai Theater. The cast performed at the Marquis Theater on Broadway in January '09 for a month. Visit our website at for additional information. It's a show you will NOT want to miss!

Thanks, SHERRI

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